Monthly Archives: October 2013

National Consultation Constitutional Rights for Welfare of Girl Child

National Consultation
Constitutional Rights for Welfare of Girl Child
Interface among Practitioners, Academicians and Policy Makers
Organised by Deep Welfare and Independent Thought

The Constitution of India is the legal safe guarder and protector of our rights and children have been given special mention in a number of articles. While Article 15 of the Constitution states that ‘the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them’; recognising the need for special protection, Article15 (3) which reads ‘nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provisions for women and children’, provides scope for positive discrimination and action to rectify the historical injustice meted out to girls children in the patriarchal character of our society. The fact on the ground in relation to girls is extremely serious when it comes to their overall development and protection. Two most significant impediments in the life of an Indian girl is restrictions in her access to the Constitutional Right to Education and more significantly the issues of illegal Child Marriage.

The National Consultation  being organised on 30th October 2013 at India International Centre, Lodi Road, to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child (Friday the 11th of October, 2013) plans to bring these two issues under discussion in the background of the provisions of Constitutional Rights for Welfare of Girl Children and recommend possible ways to blunt this double edge sword of Illiteracy & Child Marriage. Organised in Delhi by Deep Welfare and Independent Thought; the Consultation would be participated by leading agencies on child rights and women rights in India. The Consultation is in the backdrop of the ongoing PIL, Independent Thought vs. Union of India; [W.P.(Civil) No. 382 of 2013 – where Hon’ble Supreme Court Issued notices to Centre on 10 July 2013) challenges the Constitutional Validity of provisions of Exception 2 to Section 375 of IPC, as amended by Criminal law (Amendment) Act, 2013. While amending the Indian Penal Code through the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013; the Parliament ignored its own larger policy on children and failed to protect the rights of girls between the ages of 15-18 years being violated through an illegal act of child marriage. In fact the Parliament went against its own policy and increased the age difference of 1 year to 3 years between married and unmarried girls in relations to age of consent to sexual relationship. The petition raised several questions on the Constitutional Rights of the girl children, primarily in the realm of Socio-Economic rights namely, their right to life, health, choices and prospective rights on being adults.


Urban Samvaad – interactive exhibition at Delhi!

Urban Samvaad                                            

An interactive exhibition showcasing young ideas for Indian urbanization

8th -10th of November 2013

At the

School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi

4-Block-B, Indraprastha Estate

New Delhi 110002

As part of collaboration between School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, students of SPA from various planning disciplines were supported by experts from both organisations to conduct research on inclusive urbanization in India. In an exhibition organised by GIZ and SPA, these students will showcase their work and enter into dialogues with urban professionals and the interested public.

Urban Samvaad (Samvaad means Dialogue in Hindi) is an interactive and dialogue-oriented exhibition. Visitors will get an opportunity to engage with various facets of urbanization such as transport, slum settlements, energy consumption, and public toilets, and discuss strategies to make cities more inclusive and sustainable. The exhibition also aims at initiating dialogue on how to educate and mentor urban professionals of the future to enable and equip them well to handle India’s urban challenges.

The programme highlights are:

Friday, November 8

4.30 pm                Inaugural session and a guided tour for honorary guest

6.00 pm                Tea and snacks

6.30 pm                Naksha.Nukkad.Nakhre: SPANDAN Street Theatre Play (in English)

 Saturday, November 9

10.30 am              Opening of exhibition

11.00 am              Panel discussion “Who can manage Indian Cities?” – Education and capacity building of future urban professionals

from 3.00 pm     Chai and a chat with exciting urban professionals at the Urban Samvaad ka adda


Sunday, November 10

10.30 am              Opening of exhibition

From 11.30 am  Chai and a chat with exciting urban professionals at the Urban Samvaad ka adda


3.30 pm                Closing of the exhibition

The exhibition is open to all interested public!

Download the Urban Samvaad poster and like it on Facebook!



Re-posted from

By Rajesh Tandon, President PRIA

Localizing Research Partnerships

A recent comparative study carried out by UK’s Development Studies Association focuses on the comparative value-addition of development studies carried out in partnership with NGOs and community-based organisations (CBOs). Entitled ‘Cracking Collaboration’, it analyses the factors that can enhance such value-addition. Much of the collaboration on research continues to be such where NGOs and CBOs are ‘users’ of research carried out by academics. Very few collaborations entail NGOs/CBOs setting the research agendas or co-producing the knowledge. The report makes a strong case for enriching development studies by deepening collaboration between academics and NGOs in ways that can improve contextual evidence and knowledge to inform practice and policy.

In recent years, there has been an increasing global discourse to derive contextual knowledge of development. Diversities of contexts significantly shape the processes, mechanisms and outcomes of national development policies and programmes. Yet, local knowledge is not readily available for adapting such programmes to local dynamics.

In a recent seminar in Delhi, a nation-wide study of economic contributions of the urban poor from 50 largest cities of India was discussed ( The associations of urban poor—rag-pickers, vendors, hawkers, rickshaw-pullers, construction workers, etc.—present in the seminar wanted to generate more localized and particularized knowledge about the contributions of their members in a particular city itself. This is where localized research partnerships between hawkers association in Kolkata, for example, and several universities and colleges located in that city can partner together to undertake more locally relevant research.

Likewise, in another seminar on People’s Budget Initiative (, some participants shared findings of local studies carried out by NGOs and social movements on the realities of weak implementation of several national development programmes in education, water, sanitation and health. Several participants expressed desire to gather further local evidence so that they can support people’s struggles for a better life. Once again, such support can be enhanced if local colleges and universities from the district levels can partner with social movements and NGOs in undertaking locally relevant research.

However, for such local research partnerships to materialize, it is critical that NGOs, CBOs, civil society and social movements engage with institutions of higher education in their neighbourhoods. Local post-secondary educational institutions have researchers and students who can be inspired, encouraged and enabled to undertake locally relevant research on a wide variety of issues in a locally appropriate partnership with local NGOs and civil society. There is also a need for civil society to assertively demand such research collaboration from the principals and vice-chancellors of local colleges and universities. Unless civil society articulates that demand on a consistent basis, the present apathy, indifference and inertia from both sides will not be transformed.

Local knowledge for local practice and policy is critical for ensuring relevance and sustainability to local development. Local demand for improving the quality of development studies as applicable to local realities is indeed extremely critical. Can we all facilitate voicing of that demand more loudly?

Slumming it out in the metros

A fast urbanising India poses a huge challenge to town planners who must figure out how to provide basic amenities to the thousands everyday that pour into cities which are already bursting at the seams

As India moves towards becoming a developed nation, one of its biggest challenges will be its fast expanding urban spaces. While some consider this to be boon, others realise that this is a major problem in the making due to limited resources andlack of urban planning. The state has frequently sought to address this problem but no concrete outcome has surfaced yet. Meanwhile, urban residents struggle to sustain themselves as prices of essential items and house rents skyrocket amidst poor sanitation facilities, power-cuts and poor infrastructure. Will increased urbanisation help us solve the problem or will it add to the crisis?

Urbanisation in India is currently following the distributed pattern with a diverse range of large and small urban centres emerging around the country. This will possibly continue in the foreseeable future as it suits the country’s federal structure andensures that migration flows aren’t heavy towards any particular city or cities.

Urbanisation in India is expected to grow at a robust pace. Estimates indicate that by 2030, urbanisation will reach about 40 per cent of country, as against 28 per cent in 2001, backed by surging growth, economic reforms as well as foreign anddomestic investment. According to a report of the McKinsey Group, India will have six mega cities with a population of 10 million or more, 13 large cities with more than four million people and 68 major urban centres with a population of more than one million by 2030.

But the speed at which India is urbanising also poses an unprecedented administrative and policy challenge. For instance, the demand for basic amenities such as water, transportation, sewage treatment, low-income housing is expected increase five to seven fold in the cities. However, the authorities are unsure about how to handle this seismic shift in India’s organisational structure.

Local Governments have an important role to play in this situation but the devolution of functions to these bodies, as per 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, has been incomplete possibly because of the unwillingness of State Governments. In addition, few Indian cities have master plans for 2030 that take into account peak transportation loads, requirements for low-income affordable housing and climate change. In general, the capacity to execute urban reforms at the municipal and State level remains inadequate.

Recent reports suggest that India spends only $17 per capita per year on urban infrastructure, whereas recommended expenditure is $100. The investment required for building urban infrastructure in India, over the next 20 years is estimated to be a trillion dollars. One in five persons in a slum is from a Scheduled Caste even though the proportion of SCs in the overall urban population is just 12.6 per cent or about one in eight persons.

The work-participation rate in slums is slightly higher (36 per cent) compared to the overall urban rate of 35 per cent. Similarly, the work participation of women in slums is also almost two percentage points higher than in the urban population. But more than two out of five women workers living in slums are marginal workers, who do not have employment throughout the year. The southern States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Goa have among the highest work participation rates at about 40 per cent, while Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have the lowest.

Maharashtra has the highest slum population of 1.18 crore followed by Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh andTamil Nadu. Interestingly, the slum population in Maharashtra (as a percentage of the State’s total population) has registered a significant reduction from 23 to 18 per cent. A few States like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat have shown a marginal reduction in the proportion of slum population, though in most States the proportion has increased.

The Government in Gujarat, under the leadership Chief Minister Narendra Modi, sought to address the issue of urbanisation at the national summit on inclusive urban development. Mr Modi rightly said that the concept of town planning has changed from providing roads, drinking water and sewer lines to setting up townships within towns. At the same time, he also cautioned against unplanned development leading to haphazard growth. According to Mr Modi, town planning should be considered an opportunity and not a crisis.

Former Union Urban Development Secretary M Ramachandran had said that there is need for an appropriate urban-planningstrategy that includes providing basic amenities like affordable houses, public transport, clean surroundings to ensure a balanced slum-free urban growth. However, if the Government does not take urban planning seriously, India’s urban centres will into slum cities.

Source: The Pioneer

Ragpickers Want Recognition

Kabadiwalas and ragpickers in the capital have found themselves sidelined by the draft municipal solid waste rules 2013 which does not recognize their contribution to the city’s waste management.

Despite playing a major role in collection and recycling of waste in cities, their work is mentioned only once in the draft rules which say the municipal body can engage agencies and groups “including ragpickers” in collection of waste from homes, leaving it to the sweet will of the corporation to decide whether or not they will avail their service at all.
The community is also disturbed by the portrayal of waste-to-energy plants in the draft as one of the main methods of managing waste.

Apart from serious air pollution concerns, members are concerned that this would lead to “privatization” of waste management. The All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh organized a meeting on Wednesday, also attended by waste management experts, which thrashed out a set of demands.

Instead of leaving all aspects of waste management to municipal bodies, which ends up in it being transported to landfills, the meeting focused on “decentralizing” the process and dealing with the waste at the ward level.

However, experts say it will take time to be implemented. At the core of this process is waste segregation at source which is currently not being practised in Delhi. While dry waste can be handed over directly to the ragpicker by residents, wet waste may be recycled to compost. This will not just protect the waste handling community but also reduce investments in pollution-causing waste-to-energy plants. All residents need to do is not mix dry and wet waste since that makes extraction of usable waste nearly impossible. “It’s also very undignified for us to sort out usable things with our hands from the filth,” said Meena, a ragpicker.
“Collection and segregation of waste can obviously be done by ragpickers. There seems to be class bias in the way the rules don’t acknowledge the existing waste management players. Why only private companies? It’s the primary right of the unorganized sector to continue work as ragpickers,” said Ravi Agarwal, founder director of Toxics Link, an environmental NGO.

Okhla landfill used to have 300 to 400 people working to recover usable waste but now only about 80 ragpickers go there since the work of managing waste has gone to private companies. “People who make these rules focus only on the emission standards and the environmental aspects but not at the social cost. Waste can be managed safely by the informal sector,” Agarwal said.

“The Central Pollution Control Board’s technical evaluation has already shown that these plants release dioxins and furans which are extremely toxic,” he added.
We are demanding that ragpickers be given the responsibility of collecting and segregating waste. We have already found that 80% of waste is usable and 30% is recyclable. Then why should waste be sent to the plants? The process should be decentralized and composting should be encouraged,” Shashi Bhushan of the Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh said.


Census 2011 missed 5 crore slum dwellers

Source: Subodh Varma, TNN Oct 12, 2013, 03.49AM IST

Through a bunch of omissions, Census 2011 appears to seriously underestimate the number of slum dwellers in India, putting it at 6.5 crore people spread over 2613 towns.

But, over 5 crore urban population living in newly emerged urban areas was not covered for slum identification during the census.India has an urban population of 37.7 crore living in a total of 7935 towns. Of these towns, 4041 are administered by some local body like a municipality. These are called statutory towns. Slums were counted only in these towns.

The remaining 3894 towns do not yet have a local body. Since they fulfill the criteria of “urban” areas the Census classifies them as “census towns”. But strangely, while counting the slum population the Census did not consider these Census Towns at all.

In the Census Towns of Damodarpur, Dumari and Majhaulia abutting Muzaffarpur town inBihar, at least 10 to 20 percent houses have thatch roof, and drains are open, says Abhash Kumar. “Land of these erstwhile villages has been sold for middle class residents but most original residents live in slum like conditions,” he added.

On the outskirts of Delhi, Khora is a Census Town in Ghaziabad district where working people live. Its population is 1.9 lakh. Large swathes of this sprawling town are congested with open drains, no piped water and ramshackle houses. Even Greater Noida, an upmarket locality has small clusters of jhuggi-jhopris. Panvel, Navi Mumbai-Raigarh, on the periphery of Mumbai, is similar. But all are out of the reckoning for slum identification.

The census towns are under village panchayats, still get funds from the rural development ministry and state governments are hesitant to turn them into municipalities, says Ram Bhagat, professor at the International Institute of Population Studies, Mumbai.

Pronab Sen, chairman of the National Statistics Commission underlined other flaws in the procedure leading to an “under-count” of slums. In 2010 a committee set up by the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation (MHUPA) under his chairmanship had strongly recommended that the cut-off for counting a belt of dwellings as slum should be 20 not 60-70 households. The Sen committee had projected a slum population of over 9 crore by 2011.


The ‘poorest of the poor’ makes India rich!

By Manoj Rai, Director PRIA

Here are some thought provoking findings that shall force you to ponder on how just our society is in terms of providing to the poor:

  • Do you know that the contribution of urban informal settlement dwellers is about 7.53% of the urban GDP?
  • And this contribution is comparatively large in comparison to our economic sectors!
  • Investing in enhancing the capacity and demands of the urban poor will give the richest dividend. One point increase in demands of the urban poor can therefore raise the city’s GDP by 1 point. There is obviously not such a relation between any other economic sectors.

Therefore the citizens often seen as ‘burden’ to the city, illegal entities residing in urban poor informal settlements and who are subjected to discrimination and inequality, might just be far greater a contributor to the country’s GDP than the privileged lot. PRIA and INDICUS began their research to find exactly that! What is the real contribution of the ‘burden’ and in ‘economic terms’ do they deserve provision of basic services to them by the city, state and centre.

The findings of the study are being shared today at India Habitat Centre at Delhi from 10am to 4pm, Join us and know more!